I love food. Food is the sustenance for my existence and it can harbor an abundance of joy. Why I haven’t been eating much is contributed to a couple factors. One reason is just my schedule. During the first week, there was so much going on every single day. For any students coming into the program, I want to reassure you that there are multiple networks here that care about the quality of your time here. One of the main groups that reach out to the international students is called “ESN”. ESN stands for Erasmus Student Network. There are multiple students doing exchange programs here in Bochum from all over Europe. ESN hosts multiple events to get the students to know one another as well as opening up the opportunity to meet German students. My schedule for classes here in Bochum is pretty favorable however, I am still adjusting to the length of them. German 101 lasts for a duration of 3 hours and we meet three times a week. The Engineering Lab usually lasts for a minimum of 4 hours. Also depending on which German Professor you’re conducting research with, it is mandatory to meet for multiple hours per week. The other classes last for 3 hours and 2 hours. To be transparent, there have been multiple occasions where I have been caught nodding off in the lectures after the 2nd hour. The cafeteria here is also only open from 11:00 A.M to 3:00 P.M. With my schedule I only have time to eat their once. It’s a lot different from Drexel and America where there are so many places that are open 24/7. So what usually ends up happening is I wake up early and attend my first class for 3 hours. I try to get food that I may like from the Mensa (cafeteria) but things taste differently here. Then I move on to my next obligation and depending on the different events going on around campus I may be out from the night until the next morning. That cycle is then repeated from day to day. There have been a few days where the only entities that have entered my body have been a couple pieces of fruit and water. It’s not healthy.
The second reason why I haven’t been eating much is that I can’t speak German. While being away in a new country where an individual does not know the language everything becomes a “thing”. Getting up to try to find your way to classes is a “thing”. Trying to navigate the subway system is a “thing”. Having to communicate with workers at an establishment is a “thing”. Something as simple as ordering food is a “thing”. The simple things that you have no problem doing during everyday life become a hurdle that has to be surmounted. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t self-conscious about it. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t feel confident, and when faced with difficulties the easiest reaction is to do nothing. But doing nothing is the worst way to handle a problem. After a couple of weeks, starving myself got old really fast. And it came to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore. I made sure to learn how to order food in German and also learned numbers to be able to understand prices. I forced myself to go to the grocery store and buy whatever food looked good to me along with spices and drinks that could enhance my meals. I loaded up money on my Mensa card (card used to buy food at the cafeteria) and sought out delicious food that could satiate my palette. I also connected with the German friends I have met in Bochum and started going to different restaurants. It may seem like a minuscule accomplishment, but I’m very proud of myself for being able to overcome this struggle. It still isn’t easy, but I at least I’ve given myself the tools to fight through the adversities.
There have been a lot of other things that I have been doing and I would love to go in-depth about them but unfortunately, I don’t have time to write a novel. So instead I’ve decided to just feature a couple pictures and tell the brief story behind them. During the first weekend, one of the Bochum Buddies invited all of the Drexel students to her apartment to have a rooftop BBQ. It was a lot of fun and it was also nice to have the opportunity to meet other students over food and beautiful rooftop views. The other pictures are from the Drexel group going to our lecture about the labs that needed to be completed over the term. A couple of the students were running late so I took pictures along the route for them to follow. I liked the way a couple of them came out. The rooftop BBQ pictures were taken by the wonderful Luke Mishtal.